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Midweek Rambling

Kinda interesting: Inside Amazon's $3.5 Million Competition to Make Alexa Chat Like a Human. If you don't want to wait for the results, you can use the Alexa Blueprint Skill to customize your Dot's responses. I did this last weekend, to much laughter among friends and family. When you ask, "Hey Alexa, who is Jack?" She responds, "A well-known Communist pedophile." When you ask which parent is the best, she says, "The father, of course." Juvenile stuff, but fun.

But this ain't so much fun: The Next Plague Is Coming. Is America Ready? The epidemics of the early 21st century revealed a world unprepared, even as the risks continue to multiply. Much worse is coming.

The Atlantic Monthly. I stand by, partially ready, with my stock of Four Thieves essential oil, surgical masks, and foot covers. After that devastating flu I got last January, the possibility of a mass-fatality flu outbreak no longer strikes me as fantastical. If you share the concerns, you might want to consult this nifty--and, I think, exhaustive--list of things to buy now.

Summer starts at 6:07 AM tomorrow. Set your clocks . . . oh wait, wrong calendar event.

Pit Bull Attack, Episode 1,349,220: "Mckenzie said it was like a switch went off in the normally 'cuddly, sweet' dogs. The Norwalk woman said one minute she was petting them and the next she was fighting for her life as they literally tried to rip her apart." Link. Exactly. No one knows why, but these dogs seem to have a trigger that makes them go from docile to extremely vicious in two seconds and for no apparent reason. If any creature ought to be outlawed, these beasts should be. It's unconscionable to keep them in civilized neighborhoods. Even if your pit bull never snaps, why do you want to put your neighbor in a state of apprehension? At best, it's inconsiderate, and I think it borders on cruelty.

Random Blurb from the Notebooks: Is there such a thing as a beautiful thrashing? I wouldn't have thought so, but Nock does it repeatedly in Memoirs of a Superfluous Man. All sorts of things about American culture irritate him, but he criticizes them with superb prose, erudition, and a measure of detached amusement that makes the criticism even more effective.